When trying to conceive, you’ll always be on the lookout for symptoms that scream out loud “congratulations! you’re pregnant!”.
You’ll be monitoring each and every possible change your body goes through, doing your research about it online or just asking your doctor about it to see whether or not it’s a reliable sign that proves you’ve successfully conceived.
One of these signs – also the topic of this article – is implantation cramping.
What Is Implantation Cramping?
Implantation is defined as the moment the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus’s wall at the very beginning of a pregnancy.
Right at the implantation of the embryo is when a pregnancy officially begins. This is officially the first moment your baby begins to form, and this on its own is very magical to just think about, let alone experience.
When the fertilized egg or embryo attaches itself to your womb, this is when light cramping and spotting often happen.
So, even though I’m sure you don’t know anyone who looks forward to getting a cramp (as neither do I), you should actually be looking forward to experiencing implantation cramps if you’re trying your best to get pregnant – as they are usually one of the very first signs that confirm your attempts have succeeded!
Do All Women Who Conceive Experience This?
The short answer to this question is NO, most women who get pregnant do not experience implantation cramping.
The majority of women who conceive go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies without ever feeling feeling such a cramp or notice such spotting.
It’s certainly not something that all pregnant women necessarily experience when they conceive – on the contrary, only between 30%-35% of women who conceive experience this at first1.
But, for the women who do feel these sensations, this is what implantation cramping means.
What Does Implantation Cramping Feel Like?
Women are certainly no strangers to cramps, regardless of whether they ever get pregnant or not, so this is just one among many that we heroes go through. (Yes, I just self-proclaimed us as heroes because, well, we sure are!).
To start off, implantation cramping isn’t one of those strong, intense cramps that hit you out of nowhere and make you feel as if the world is coming to and end.
Implantation cramps involve, most of the time, sensations of mild cramps that you feel in the lower part of your abdomen. You may very well feel these cramps in other parts of your body as well, but most women experience them in their lower abdomen region.
Other sensations that accompany implantation cramping are piercing, tingling, back pain that’s very similar to menstruation back pain, and unusual pressure on your sides. And that’s just for the women who actually feel these cramps.
For the other pregnant women out there, implantation cramping doesn’t feel like anything to them because they don’t even notice that it’s happened to them.
If you feel an unusually intense cramping sensation in between your menstrual cycles, then something is likely wrong and you should tell your doctor about it as soon as possible.
Should I Do Anything When I Experience Implantation Cramping?
If the uncomfortable sensations you’re feeling are mild enough for you to go on with your day to day duties without it making you go crazy, then there’s a good chance that you should let it pass on its own – which it almost always does.
If, however, the uncomfortable sensations you’re feeling are way beyond your pain threshold, then you should tell your doctor about it right away because chances are you’re experiencing something other than implantation cramping.
Tips For Relief
For most women, implantation cramps will go unnoticed and you won’t even feel them happening, simply because everything is occurring at a small cellular level. At most, they could cause some mild pain and discomfort.
However, that’s not the case for all women alike. If you’re one of the 30%-35% minority of women who’s implantation cramps cause severe and unbearable discomfort, the following tips will greatly help you with relief.
1) Stress, Be Gone!
It’s exceptionally important for you to cut out anything that causes you added stress during this time.
Stress will do absolutely nothing but make sure that the already intense pain your implantation cramps are having you go through become even more intense.
So, do whatever it is you have to do that usually puts you in a relaxed state.
For some people, that would mean having to take time some well deserved time off from work and sleep for the most part of the day, for others that may be listening to calm and soothing music, while for others that may be taking up on some meditation exercises.
Whatever it is that works for you and makes you relaxed – that’s what you should be doing.
Speaking of relaxing, why not get yourself a proper massage to help? It could be something as simple as getting your partner to give you one, or book a session with a prenatal massage professional.
Staying properly hydrated throughout the day is very important during the most normal of circumstances, so you could imagine how significantly more important it is when you’re experiencing implantation cramps.
The more dehydrated your body is, the more likely you are to experience different kinds of spasms and muscle pain – and vice versa2.
4) Keep It Warm
When you experience cramps, heat is your absolute best friend.
Warm temperatures will help ease your tense muscles and, as a result, relieve you from some of that nasty pain and discomfort.
Try taking a warm bath or applying hot compresses on the problematic area and see if that helps.
Implantation Cramping VS Menstruation Cramping
One thing you should be careful about is not to mistake cramping that comes with actual implantation with menstruation cramps.
Many women think they’re getting an actual cramp due to implantation, while in reality it’s just the cramps from their period kicking in – whether that’s pre-menstrual cramps we’re talking about, menstrual cramps or post-menstrual cramps.
It’s quite easy to get the two messed up, especially considering that implantation cramps can happen around the same time you get your period.
So, here’s how you can differentiate an implantation cramp from a menstrual cramp.
1) Cramp Severity
The severity and intensity of the cramps you feel will almost always enable you to differentiate whether what you’re experiencing is an implantation cramp or menstruation cramp.
While implantation cramps are (for the most part) light and occur at irregular intervals, menstruation cramps are usually more severe and steadily increase in intensity.
2) Cramp Duration
Implantation cramps generally last anywhere from a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 3 days, which is the time frame that the implantation process usually needs to be fully completed.
On the other hand, cramps that last longer than 3 days are usually pre-menstruation cramps before you get your period, caused by an increase in the levels of a hormone called progesterone.
Progesterone is known to slow down the digestion process of food, which leads to cramps.
Implantation Bleeding VS Period Bleeding
You should also take note not to confuse the occasional bleeding sometimes associated with implantation with bleeding you experience while on your period. The two are not the least bit alike, and this section will explain how exactly.
First off, know that any bleeding associated with implantation is almost always light bleeding. Rare are the cases where you bleed heavily because of implantation.
Moreover, while you may find that your bleeding often intensifies while on your period, the same is not true for implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding only happens at the very moment that implantation occurs. As soon as the implantation process is complete, bleeding stops.
Finally, the two colors are very, very different. While menstruation bleeding usually has a bright red color to it, implantation bleeding often has a brown-ish or pink-ish color to it3.
When Does Implantation Cramping Happen?
Different women will notice experience implantation cramping at different times, but the majority who do seem to notice it between 2 to 7 days before their period and 8 to 10 days (sometimes even 12 days) after ovulation.
This is one of the reasons why it’s very beneficial for you to always track your cycle. This way you’ll know for sure at what date you ovulate, and can assess what you’re going through exactly 8 to 10 days after the date you know you ovulated for a fact, and not as a wild guess.
If you’re experiencing cramping at day 5 or 6 after ovulation, you can rest assured that it’s not implantation cramping nor anything else pregnancy related – there’s no chance for implantation to have occurred yet during this small time window.
So, keeping this in mind can greatly help you determine whether or not you’re pregnant, especially when coupled with something like a home pregnancy test.
(Note: If you do plan on taking a home pregnancy test to get a definitive answer, you’ll get the most accurate answer upon taking it 7 days after your missed period. That’s when enough levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone would have formed in your body for the test to pick up on it from your urine).
If you begin experiencing these cramps 2 to 7 days before your period, notice that the blood color is pink or brown and not the usual bright red, and do not notice the same intensifying blood flow you usually do when on your period, then there’s a very good chance that you are indeed pregnant!
How Long Does Implantation Cramping Last During Pregnancy?
Thankfully, there’s good news for those of you who’s implantation cramps are more annoying than those that other moms-to-be experience – it doesn’t last forever!
As soon as the embryo attaches to the uterus, the cramps will be long gone, and so will any other occurrences related to implantation itself.
This process is usually completed in as little as 1 day and as much as 3 days.
As for the duration of the cramp itself, however, this differs from one woman to another. Some women experience cramps that last for just a few seconds, while others experience cramps that last a few minutes before they go away.
How many times you’ll experience these cramps in a day’s time will also differ from one woman to another. Some women go through multiple episodes a day, while others only go through this once a day.
If you continue to notice any of these signs after more than 3 days have passed, talk to your doctor about them as soon as possible. You should also tell your doctor about the duration of the cramps you get if they last longer than just a few minutes at once.
If you’re not really sure whether what you’re experiencing is caused by implantation or something else you’re confusing it for, the following is a list of some of the most common symptoms that women experience when implantation has indeed occurred.
The more of these symptoms you notice during or shortly after ovulation, the more likely you are to be pregnant.
(It should be noted, though, that some cases do exist where women noticed all of the symptoms mentioned below and still did not turn out to be pregnant. While this is quite unlikely, it could very well happen).
1) Missed Period
A missed period is the most telling sign you could get that you’re pregnant, especially if you normally get your periods on time and don’t usually miss any.
2) Tender Breasts
Your breasts will likely feel more tender to the touch during early pregnancy than they normally do. This is due to hormonal changes your body is going through and adjusting to during this phase.
3) Mood Swings
Unusual mood swings are also telling signs of early pregnancy, especially if you can’t remember experiencing any before (outside the context of another pregnancy you may have gone through before, of course). This is, again, most often due to the sudden hormonal changes your body is going through and trying to adapt to.
4) Gastrointestinal Problems
The same hormonal changes that happen in a woman’s body in early pregnancy also oftentimes lead to different gastrointestinal problems in different women, two most common of which being constipation and bloating.
Talking To Your Doctor
It goes without saying that talking to your doctor about what you experience in cases like this is the absolute best approach you could take.
However, this is not necessarily needed straight away and upon the slightest of discomfort from cramps.
After all, keep in mind that cramping is a very normal thing throughout pregnancy, especially towards the very beginning and during your first trimester.
This is due to all the changes your body is getting used to now that you’re going to have to start caring for a baby inside of you, most notable of which is the expansion of your uterus and the stretching of the muscles around it.
Even if you experience slight pain and discomfort while doing the most basic of stuff such as moving around, coughing or sneezing, this is still considered to be normal.
You may sometimes also experience cramps during pregnancy due to digestive and gastrointestinal issues such as excessive gas buildup and constipation, as well as participating in sexual intercourse while pregnant.
However, you should talk to your gynecologist, obstetrician or midwife as soon as you can if you experience severe pain that’s unbearable from the cramps, you notice that the pain is very focused on one side of your lower abdomen and not as much (or not at all) on the other side, or you notice that you’re still experiencing them even after 3 days have passed.
In some cases, this could be a sign of something more serious going on that should be immediately looked at by a doctor – issues such as an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, an ovarian cyst or a placental abruption.
- What Is Implantation Bleeding? https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/what-is-implantation-bleeding/,
- Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramp-Doubts About the Cause. Jajic, D, et al. Mater Sociomed. 2018 Mar; 30(1): 67–69.
- What causes implantation bleeding? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318659.php.